Why do I run?
When I was 5 years old, I had an auto-immune reaction to a still unknown stimulus that caused many of the blood vessels in my legs to burst. The doctors told my parents I would probably be going to kindergarten in a wheelchair. Unwilling to accept that prognosis, my mom devised her own form of physical therapy: cushioning the floor with pillows and holding my hands while I tried to walk. Because of my mom's stubbornness, I walked into kindergarten on my own two feet a few months later.
They said I wouldn't walk... Why not prove them wrong and go a step further... to run?
Fast-forward several years...
Heading into high school, my parents stipulated that I must participate in a sport. Being woefully uncoordinated, I realized running was my only real option, so I joined the cross country and track teams. And I was SLOW. I got lost on almost every run because I had to stop and walk and I lost sight of the rest of the team.
But, I kept working at it. After all, if I quit, my parents would have required me to take up a different sport. And I was afraid of balls, so...
Through a lot of hard work and a few trips to cross country camp at Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff,
AZ), I improved considerably. By the time I graduated, my team had won two Nebraska State Championships and finished 2nd once. As an individual, I earned two state medals in cross country and one in track, along with winning a track district championship in the 3200M, and earning a USATF Junior Olympic All-American award with my 15th place finish at Nationals my senior year.
I thought, "Hey, maybe I could run in college" and off to Middlebury, VT I went!
At Middlebury, I begged my coach Nicole to let me try steeplechase, and she kept saying no because I was "too injury-prone." But then, over spring break in San Diego, I ran a terrible 5k and an equally terrible 1500 and she decided to let me finally try steeple because I "couldn't be any worse at that." Haha!
My first time running steeple, I was the only runner in the race and I fell twice in the water pit. Afterwards, I laid down on the track and told Nicole I never wanted to do it again. She entered me in steeple at the next meet anyway.
Somehow, I fell in love with it and, after a few years, ended up being decent at it, breaking the school record twice and qualifying for the NCAA DIII championships both times.
I had a handful of nagging injuries in college, but I decided to go all-in for my senior year of cross country. I was okay at track, but I mainly considered myself a cross country runner. Unfortunately, after a great start to
my season, I sustained a very stubborn hip flexor injury that relegated me to "alternate" status for nationals. As I watched my teammates run their hearts out, and I saw "Middlebury" flash at the top of the scoreboard, I was happy but also crushed. I had wanted SO badly to contribute to that victory. I couldn't even bring myself to wear the National Championship ring until one of my teammates finally got through to me by thanking me for pushing and encouraging her all season. I may not have gotten to compete on that day in Iowa, but she helped me see that I had made an important contribution to the team after all.
At Christmas time my senior year, my mom went into the hospital with a blood clot in her leg and found out she had Stage 4 breast cancer. Of course, wanting to protect me, my parents didn't tell me how bad the situation was. Still, I wanted to stay home with her instead of returning to Middlebury, but my mom convinced me to go because it would be so hard to go back and finish later.
That spring, in outdoor track, I lowered my own school record in the steeplechase by 25 seconds and went into nationals with the 12th best time. I was SO excited to have my parents there in Ohio to watch me! Unfortunately, my mom was pretty sick from her treatments, so she and my dad had to stay in their hotel and watch my race on the webcast. I had been told that the camera really only had shown the leader during the 10k the night before. So I went out hard with the leaders to make sure my mom could see me run for as long as possible. Then... I completely blew up. I finished 19th in my last race as a Panther.
Originally, my plan after graduation was to spend the summer training in Flagstaff, and then move to Boston to run for New Balance Boston. But, a few weeks into my stay in Flagstaff, I realized that I hated cities and didn't really want to move to Boston. Flagstaff had stolen my heart and I had no plans of leaving. Nine months after moving there, I still hadn't found a job and my savings had run out. I accepted defeat and moved back home to Nebraska with my parents.
Three months later, I was missing the mountains like crazy and drove out to Boulder, CO to clear my head for the weekend. That was in June of 2012 and I'm still here. It was a reeeeally long weekend!
Since then, I've done a lot of running on roads, track, and trails. That's why I consider myself an "All-Terrain Runner:" I'll run anywhere! I've decided to take an extended break from steeple because of recurring injuries to various tendons in my ankle and shifted my sights to training for some longer stuff, including my marathon debut!